Local teen Brenda Dukes was recently nominated for the prestigious Youth of the Year award offered through the Boys & Girls Club of America.
The Youth of the Year award is the premier recognition program for young people between ages 14 and 18 who participate in their local Boys & Girls Clubs and demonstrate leadership in the community.
The nomination for Youth of the Year from her local Club means Dukes will be attending the Indiana state Youth of the Year competition in Indianapolis on March 12 and 13. Judging is based on a written application, an interview and a speech. If Dukes is selected at the state level, she will move forward to the Regional Level, with a possibility of being one of five candidates sent to the National Level.
Dukes was named Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Club of Michigan City because she possesses the qualities important to receive this award, including academic excellence, healthy lifestyle and service work. She has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Michigan City since her 8th grade year and has already completed 175 volunteer hours this year, including time spent during the Boys & Girls Club Summer Program. “Brenda has worked with our group over the summer for the last two years,” said Anthony Robinson, Boys & Girls Club Site and Teen Leader. “She is very helpful, respectful and outgoing. She is always pleasure to be around.”
Dukes is a senior at Michigan City High School. She participates in the Anti-bullying Club at the high school, as well as Safe Harbor’s Lead & Seed, a drug and alcohol abstinence group. In addition to these activities, she is a Corporal level in JROTC, a group in which she has been a participant since her 9th grade year. In January, she received the Michigan City High School Student of the Month award.
“I want to be Youth of the Year to show other young people they can do anything they put their mind to,” Dukes stated. “If first you don’t succeed, try, try again, is what I always try to keep in my head to help me.”
Dukes began special education in pre-school. Since then, she has been a part of the special education program in the public school system. She indicates that she had to work very hard to overcome various obstacles, including her fear of being bullied and her willingness speaking out in public.
“I was 16 when I decided I would not allow these fears to get me down,” she said. “I have a strong relationship with my mom and she encouraged me always be myself. She worked really hard to always help me and be there for me, especially with school. She is the one who encouraged me never to let my fears get to me.”
Dukes now spends her time dedicated to lifting other people up and making sure teens do what is right for them. She hopes she can be the strong voice the Boys & Girls Club of America is seeking. She will graduate from Michigan City High School this year and plans to attend Ivy Tech Community College in Michigan City and then move on to Purdue University North Central with the goal of earning a degree in Special Education and teaching at the elementary school level.